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I thought October 15th seemed like a very appropriate date to send out a newsletter because I know most of the people that will take time to read this (about a dozen or so) probably have been sitting around wondering what to do with their time. I mean, aren’t tax people usually done with their work by April 15th and then spend the rest of the year sharpening their pencils and getting ready for the next year? No? I thought you could all benefit from a little laugh as you cap off another exhausting fall busy season. For those of you that have the time, and for those that don’t have the time but will read it anyway, here’s my take on things related to tax jobs.....

Work Chaos

Wholly Tomolly! What the hell is going on with the job market? I'm understanding, dumbfounded, hopeful and scared all at the same time. I’ve been recruiting for over 20 years and can’t remember a labor situation quite like this. Maybe it’s the perfect storm of worker burnout, a wave of baby boomer retirements and the impact of trillions of dollars of stimulus money; or maybe we are seeing a long term shift in labor economics. A world where employees are calling all the shots and GDP growth is stifled by worker shortages. Although I didn’t win the Nobel prize for economics this year, I can’t help but think that restaurants closing or limiting their service is going to catch up with us at some point. OK [deep breath], let me try to stay in the present and talk a bit about how all of this is affecting tax professionals in Colorado and most other markets.

Growth 2

As you all know by now, my world is largely limited to tax related employment - mostly in the Western United States with an emphasis on Colorado. However, I talk to colleagues that recruit in a lot of other disciplines and geographic areas, so I’m not unaware of what’s going on outside my niche. And, I think the tax space in Colorado is pretty representative of what’s going on across the country.

We have seen consistent wage growth year after year since about 2010. Although in 2020 we saw salary and bonus cuts, layoffs and delayed promotions; this year we are seeing companies and firms do all they can to make up for lost time. Just in Q3 of this year I have seen a significant increase in hiring activity in tax, much of it fueled by public accounting firms trying to staff up before the fourth quarter rush. According to recent information published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the quit rate is now at 2.9%; which is the highest it’s been since the year 2000 when they started tracking this information. The quit rate is the rate at which people are quitting jobs voluntarily. As you would expect, there was a precipitous drop in the quit rate at the beginning of the pandemic, but it’s been steadily increasing since that time. The quit rate is highest in the hospitality and food service industries, but all sectors are seeing higher numbers of people leaving careers and gainful employment. Couple this with the fact that tax has seen a widening gap between supply (tax just ain’t sexy enough) and demand (the complexity and exposure require more staff), and you have a bonafide labor shortage in tax.

For employees this translates into more power. Power to seek increased compensation, power to find the right mix of in-office and remote work and power to be selective in a job search. Employers, on the other hand, are scrambling to keep up with the salary demands of both new hires and their current employees. They are trying to navigate the issues of employee “workplace” and doing all they can to fill positions in a hyper competitive market.

Remote work on an island

Let me say a little about the current fluidity of what we used to call the “workplace”. While some companies expect employees in the office full time and others are 100% remote, the vast majority are offering some type of hybrid situation. Or have announced that they will in the future. In my opinion, the two big factors at play here are: companies have to be flexible to what employees want due to the labor supply and demand disparity. The other factor is how to navigate a world of remote workers when you have very little experience to draw from. It’s become apparent that most employees are doing fine with working from home, but some employees struggle. At least that's what we're seeing so far. Let's see what happens after a year or two or three of working remotely all or part of the time. Also, we all are aware of the difficulty of creating a corporate culture with a remote workforce. Things are still evolving and it will be interesting to see what it looks like when the dust settles. And how it settles will be driven largely by what employees want (remember, they have a lot of power), within the confines of company profitability.

Although the statistics seem to indicate that the supply of tax professionals is probably going to continue to decrease, I’ve recruited long enough to know that the market swings between power in the hands of employers and power in the hands of employees. In a perfect world, I think employees will balance loyalty and longevity with their desire to capitalize on current market conditions. And employers have to realize that, good, bad or indifferent, they no longer have most of the power.


I’m a recruiter, so I’d love to help you find a new position or help you find an employee. I’m also happy to consult with companies and firms on what they need to offer to be competitive in today’s market. I hope to send out one more newsletter before the end of the year, but we’ll see. My team and I are expecting things to be busy the next few months.

Jay s Picture

To your continued success,


Jay McCauley
Executive Recruiter, Oxford Tax Recruiting

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